Two California Traditional Artists Receive National Award

ACTA - Posted on 17 December 2009

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Two of California’s finest traditional artists received a USA Fellowship from United States Artists (USA), Sophiline Cheam Sharpiro, USA Knight Fellow, Long Beach, and Danongan Kalanduyan, USA Broad Fellow, San Francisco.  Both of these artists have been supported through the Alliance for California Traditional Arts' (ACTA) three core programs.

USA awarded 50 fellowships totaling $2.5 million.  The fellowships were celebrated at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica earlier this week. This event marked the fourth consecutive year of the USA Fellows program, which annually awards fifty unrestricted grants of $50,000 to artists of all disciplines from across the country. The USA Fellows for 2009 hail from 18 states and range in age from 28 to 82. Chosen for the caliber and impact of their work, they include contemporary experimenters and traditional practitioners—Pueblo potters, feminist performance pioneers, cutting-edge fashion designers, independent radio artists, and folk musicians, among others.

Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, USA Knight Fellow, Long Beach, CaliforniaSophiline Cheam Shapiro (right) trains dancer Pum Molyta. Photo: James Wasserman

Sophiline Cheam Shapiro is a choreographer, dancer, vocalist, and educator of classical Cambodian dance. Raised in Phnom Penh, she studied dance at the University of Fine Arts there, joining its faculty in 1981. After moving to California in 1991 she studied dance ethnology at UCLA from 1997–99. Cheam Shapiro maintains the core of traditional Cambodian dance while adding contemporary content, such as the role of women in traditional cultures, and working with  contemporary composers. She co-founded Khmer Arts, a transnational dance organization based in Phnom Penh and Long Beach, California, which has the largest Cambodian population outside  of Cambodia.  

View the awards ceremony and Sophiline's work (about halfway through the broadcast) on the USA Fellows website.


Danongan Kalanduyan, USA Broad Fellow, San Francisco, California

Danongan Kalanduyan, master Kulintang musician.  Photo: ACTA staff. Danongan Kalanduyan is one of the most prominent kulintang musicians in the country. (Kulintang is an instrumental form of music composed on a row of small gongs accompanied by larger suspended gongs and drums). He began playing the kulintang as a child in his village, eventually becoming a master musician. In 1976, a Rockefeller Foundation grant brought him to the University of Washington, Seattle, as artist-in-residence in the department of ethnomusicology, from which he received an MA in 1984. Later that year, he moved to California and became the musical director of the Klilang Kulintang Arts of San Francisco, and, since 1989, he has been the director of the Filipino Kulintang Center. He received a National Heritage Fellowship in 1995.


Full press release

Profiles on all 50 USA Fellowships for 2009.


ACTA congratulates these artists for receiving this award and national recognition for their work. 

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